The shock of an earthquake on Sunday 22 June 1788 was mentioned by several diarists. The day was recorded as Clear with south-west winds. Temperature 54°
David Blackburn, Master of HMS Supply
at 20 minutes after 4 in the afternoon, a shock of an earthquake was felt through the camp. The surgeon of ‘Supply’ and myself were then in the woods about a mile and a half from the camp & were both at the time standing still and silent examining some gum issuing from a large tree. The shock did not last about 2 seconds. It came from the SW like a wave of the sea, accompany’d by a noise like a distant canon. The trees shook their topos as if a gale of wind was blowing. The afternoon was remarkably mild and serene, and very little wind at N.N.E.
William Bradley, 1st Lieutenant H.M.S. Sirius
this shock was distinctly felt on board the Ships in the cove & by several people on shore, who supposed it to be the shock of an earthquake. It was not noticed on board the ‘Sirius’ which ship lay just off the cove in the stream. The shock was noticed on board the ‘Fishburn’.
Surgeon John White
This incident had so wonderful effect on Edward Corbett, a convict, who had eloped about three weeks before, on a discovery being made of his having stolen a frock, that he returned and gave himself up to justice. A few days antecedent to his return, he had been outlawed and was supposed to have driven off with him four cows, the only animals of this kind in the colony. This, however, he declared himself innocent of but confessed his having committed the theft laid to his charge. The strictest search was made, but in vain, after the cows. It is probable that they have strayed so far off in this endless wild, as to be irrecoverably lost.
Previously to the return of Corbett he must have suffered very severely from hunger, his eyes were sunk into his head, and his whole appearance shewed that he had been half starved. While he was absent, he says, he frequently fell in the natives, who, though they never treated him ill, did not seem to like his company. He informed us, that in a bay adjacent to that where the governor and his party had met with so many natives, he saw the head of one of the convicts lying near the place where the body had been burnt in a large fire… This, in all likelihood, was Burn, who was carried off at the time Ayres was wounded as he had not been heard of since. Scott noted that Corbett was taken at or near the Governor’s farm, by Dodd the Governor’s servant & a convict that goes by the name of Banbury Jack.
Captain David Collins
Corbett … Lived in the woods for nineteen days, existing by what he was able to procure by nocturnal depredations among the huts & stock of individuals. His visits for this purpose were so frequent and daring, that it became absolutely necessary to proclaim him an outlaw.
Governor Arthur Phillip (4th dispatch)
He (Corbett) found it impossible to subsist in the woods. One of the natives gave him a fish, but then made signs for him to go away. He says he afterwards joined a party of natives, who would have burned him, but that he got away from them, and that he saw the remains of a human body on the fire. In the woods he saw four of the natives who were dying & who made signs for food.
was tried at Hertford on 2 March 1786 together with his wife Ann, for breaking and entering a house and stealing one Scarlet cloth Cardinal. Edward with another companion was also charged with theft of a hempen sack and five pecks of wheat. Ann was found not guilty, but Edward was sentenced to seven years transportation for theft only. Aged 23 he spent time on the Ceres hulk, moored at Woolwich before embarkation on the transport Alexander. He left behind his wife Ann and a son James.
Port Jackson on 5 June 1788, Edward absconded into the bush. He surrendered on the 23rd, emaciated and starved. He was tried the next day, and was hanged at 11.30am being Wednesday 25 June 1788.
Cobley, John Sydney Cove 1788, The First year of the Settlement of Australia
Cobley, John The Crimes of the First Fleet Convicts
Gillen, Mollie, The Founders of Australia
First Fleet Fellowship: First Fleet Folio June 2015